A 6-month-old girl faces death or severe brain damage from injuries police say were caused by her mother’s boyfriend.
The brain injury suffered by Nevaeh Alana Miller could have been caused only by abuse, not the accidental fall Jereme J. Bassett says was the cause, a doctor at Sacred Heart Medical Center has told police. The injuries described by the doctor are consistent with injuries suffered by a baby who has been shaken, according to court documents.
Bassett, 22, was arrested early Friday and is charged with first-degree assault. He’s being held on $1 million bond. Police say he’ll face murder charges if Nevaeh dies from the injuries she suffered Thursday at the West Wynn Motel.
Nevaeh – heaven spelled backward – was born Aug. 24 to Jennifer and Brian Miller, according to newspaper archives.
According to a court affidavit filed Friday, Bassett lives at the West Wynn Motel with the baby’s mother – identified in the documents as Jennifer Wilcox, not Miller. Also living there are Wilcox’s two children, Nevaeh and the baby’s unidentified 8-year-old brother. Bassett often watches the baby while Wilcox works, the documents state.
On Thursday, according to the affidavit, Bassett called Wilcox at work to tell her that Nevaeh had fallen off a bed and cried for about 15 minutes, but then was napping and appeared OK.
That was about 3 p.m. An hour later, police wrote in the affidavit, Shawn Prewitt and his 17-year-old stepdaughter showed up at the motel and found Bassett “scared and anxious” and the baby limp and unresponsive but breathing.
Prewitt told police no one thought Nevaeh’s condition was life-threatening, the document states.
“While the child was lying there, unresponsive, (Bassett) and the visitors sat around and smoked some marijuana,” said Spokane police Sgt. Joe Peterson.
Wilcox came home at 5 p.m., police say. No more than two minutes later, she called 911, said Pam Thomas, manager of the motel at 2701 W. Sunset Blvd.
When police asked Bassett what happened to Nevaeh, he told a different story from the one he told Wilcox, according to the affidavit. Bassett said he’d been drying the baby off, holding her about head high when she twisted and jerked out of his hands.
“None of what he said matched with the injuries,” Peterson said.
After doctors explained the baby’s injuries to police detectives, the motel room was searched for signs of “child abuse and assault,” a court document states.
The couple were living in room No. 221 of the run-down, two-story motel, where they’d been since March 7, Thomas said. The 34-room motel is occupied by many long-term residents.
Wilcox would leave every weekday morning about the same time and a friend would drop her off in the evening, Thomas said. The 8-year-old boy always came home with her.
The couple didn’t seem to socialize – “Most of the people here stick to themselves,” Thomas said. Wilcox would engage in casual conversation when she paid for the room, such as “the baby’s teething or normal stuff like that,” Thomas said.
Bassett usually stayed in the room and was often sleeping when housekeeping showed up in the afternoon, Thomas said. That’s what he was doing at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, she said.
According to police, Bassett was unemployed.
Bassett has been in court a few times in recent years, though not for violent offenses, according to Spokesman-Review archives.
He was sentenced to jail time twice in 2005 – first to 6 1/2 months after pleading guilty to residential burglary, attempted first-degree theft and possession of hydrocodone, a controlled substance, and later to 90 days for possession of marijuana.
He was accused of a robbery last year, but the case was dismissed.
The Bassett family was featured in a 2000 Spokesman-Review story about a program that helped low-income families with single parents. Jereme Bassett was a teen at the time, and his previously homeless family had gotten help obtaining a home in Spokane. The program also helped his father find work.